Mum and partner guilty of killing Alfie Steele, 9, who died in cold bath following months of abuse

13 June 2023, 14:07

Alfie Steele faced months of abuse.
Alfie Steele faced months of abuse. Picture: Family handout/Facebook

By Emma Soteriou

The mother and partner of nine-year-old Alfie Steele, who died in a cold bath following months of abuse, have been convicted.

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Carla Scott was convicted at Coventry Crown Court of the manslaughter of her nine-year-old son Alfie Steele and her partner Dirk Howell was convicted of murdering the youngster, who was repeatedly assaulted.

Alfie had 50 injuries at the time of his death, including bruises all over his body, and signs he had been deprived of oxygen.

Prosecutors said he was beaten and put in a cold bath as part of a cruel and "sinister" regime of correction by Scott and Howell in Droitwich, Worcestershire.

Jurors at Coventry Crown Court took 10 hours and 13 minutes of deliberation to find 35-year-old Scott guilty of Alfie's manslaughter, returning a majority verdict of 11 to one on Tuesday. She was cleared of his murder.

Howell, 41, was found guilty of Alfie's murder by unanimous verdict.

The judge, Mr Justice Wall, remanded both defendants into custody to be sentenced at 11am on Thursday.

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Alfie Steele
Alfie Steele. Picture: Handout

On February 18 2021, Scott called 999 to report that her son wasn't breathing, the trial previously heard.

She told the call handler that Alfie had fallen asleep in the bath at their home.

When two police officers arrived at the house at 2.30pm, Scott told them she had found Alfie "submerged", adding he had previously "hit his head".

She said she had last seen Howell a couple of days earlier but CCTV showed him running away from the house around the time the 999 call was made.

He was arrested shortly after as he attempted to leave on a train at Droitwich station.

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Carla Scott
Carla Scott. Picture: Facebook

Michelle Heeley KC said he had been "made to endure a life that no child should lead".

She added: "Alfie had not simply fallen asleep in a comfortable bath. 

"He had been deliberately and repeatedly assaulted, beaten, and put into and held under a cold bath as a punishment.

"That unlawful course of conduct, that unnecessary punishment, was carried out jointly by Carla Scott and Dirk Howell.

"It was their actions that led to his death."

Dirk Howell
Dirk Howell. Picture: Facebook

Both Scott and Howell thought it acceptable to hit Alfie with "belts, or a slider, like a heavy-duty flip flop, and use other more sinister forms of punishment", the trial heard.

The abuse included "dunking" him "in cold baths whilst naked" or forcing Alfie to "stand outside, in the middle of the night and have cold water" thrown over him.

In a recording made by a neighbour and played in court, Alfie could be heard screaming "open the door" repeatedly after being locked out of the house.

Other footage showed Scott lying to police after calling 999.

Alfie had been under a social services protection plan and discussions were under way about removing him from Scott's care after concerns were raised for him months before his death.

Howell told the court he had not killed Alfie and only ran away because his "head was a mess".

Meanwhile, Scott denied covering up her son's death in her evidence, telling jurors she did not smack him, starve him or give him cold baths as a form of punishment.